Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Spitfire Grill

I forgot to grab a program, which will make this review a lot more vague than it deserves.  So to put the credit where it is truly due, go see Spitfire Grill at the Empress Theatre sometime before February 11th.  I really don't think you'll be sorry.

Ask anyone who's ever sat next to me in a theatrical production, and they'll tell you that I kind of love to hate.  I can truly enjoy a show and still come away with a few things to complain about.  For example, I've not yet seen a production of The Scarlet Pimpernel in which I was 100% satisfied with the Chauvelin, and I've seen some incredible productions.  I'm a snob.  An elitist.  Can you really fault me for wanting perfection?

Of course, I found some stuff to complain about.  But I always tell my students/ward choir members/casts that they can tell when I think they're really good, because I'll start to pick at the little stuff.  And that's what this is: little stuff.

The Orchestra
This show had live music, and it really influenced the mood.  The live music consisted of an excellent fiddle and a pretty good piano.  The pianist was excellent, really, on the ballads.  But on the more involved songs, I heard several botched chords, delays for page turns, and some oversimplification of the meat of the songs.  She did what every good accompanist should do and skipped the stuff she thought she'd miss.  But for me, it really thinned out what should have been full and driving chords.  There were also rhythmic motifs she just didn't quite master.  Only the crazy hard ones, but still -- there was room for improvement.

The Green Lights
A major lyrical theme of the show is the "colors of paradise."  I'd not have picked a limey-green to represent said colors.  I wanted some gorgeous reds and oranges, especially since the show concludes in October.

The Acting/Singing Balance
I'm not really complaining here, because - coming from my music background - I'd rather see weakness in the acting than the singing.  But in giving a fair and complete review, the actress playing Hannah occasionally had trouble delivering her lines with fluidity, and there was a disconnect for me between the power of Caleb's singing voice compared to the way he delivered his spoken lines.

That's it.  That's all I can complain about.  And I'm trying really hard.

Now on to the awesome stuff.

The Harmonies
This music is not easy.  In fact, there's some points at which it's pretty freaking hard.  I swear I didn't hear one single out-of-tune chord.  Not one botched counterpoint rhythm.  Not one balance issue.  A.ma.zing.

The Emotion
I got chills no fewer than four times.  I didn't cry, but my friend did, and I heard plenty of sniffles throughout.  There were many poignant scenes, and each character told his or her story so well.

The Energy
Its really hard to keep up momentum and energy in a show with no production numbers and no ensemble cast to essentially come off the bench.  Six people.  Two acts.  Tons of solos.  And my mind - my leaves water boiling on the stove at least once per week mind - wandered only once.  (Sorry, the song when Eli comes back just didn't do it for me.)  The show built in all the right places and never (well, almost never) dropped too far.

The Set/Props
The director used the whole weird Empress stage to his advantage, and I felt every corner and platform was used expertly.  The painting was beautiful, and the actual grill was perfect.  The props were used to make the grill seem fully functional and real.  I wanted to go sit down and order some dinner.

Honestly, people.  Go see it.  (And then feel free to let me know if I led you astray.)


Friday, January 27, 2012

Warm in Winter

The second the weather warms up, the boys and I head outside.  To the park by our house.  To the pool.  Sometimes no further than the front yard.  While the locations may vary, there are two elements that don't.  

1) The sun is beating down, warming me from the outside in, starting with my ray-absorbing brown hair.  Soon after my hair starts to feel warm, the cloth covering my shoulders and knees begins to heat up.  Finally, if there's not too much of a breeze, my skin starts to feel warm.  I love this feeling.

2) There is a book in my hand.  Always.  I peer at children over the top edge of whatever fantasy or mystery or chick-flick has caught my eye, frequently devouring two or three books per week.  I bookmark to go push a swing or assist little bodies with reaching new heights, but I quickly return to my book.

While the book part is achievable pretty much any time of year, the warmth doesn't seem to be.  I've been cold since November.  I'm pretty sure its contributing to my tension headaches, and I have been wearing a flannel shirt and knee-high socks to bed most nights because I just can't seem to shake the constant chill.  I complain constantly of being cold, and I'm fairly certain it is driving Kirk crazy.

But this morning I found a magical corner, capable of delivering that summery warmth. It even comes complete with an area for Dylan to play while I half-watch and half-read.  The ninety minutes I spent there were glorious.  Heaven-sent.  Fulfilling.  Sustaining.  And I can't wait to go back.

Where is this little piece of heaven?  The children's section of the Magna library.  At 10:00 am, the sun shines through the huge glass windows, lighting perfectly a couch located in the children's section.  The couch offers an unobstructed view of the many activities designed with chubby fingers in mind and offers a perfect spot for this mom to relax and read.  But the unexpected cherry on top was that as I sat there in the abundant natural light, my hair started to get warm.  My brown sweatshirt absorbed the sunlight, and I got warm enough to sit in a short-sleeved shirt.  My skin never quite radiated heat, but stuck in winter, I'll take whatever warmth I can get.

Yeah, I'll be back.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Not Quite Like Wine

I kind of thought that my mothering skills would progress like wine; they'd get better with age.  I'm pretty sure that didn't happen.

I don't think I've gotten worse, either.  Just... different.

Dylan has been grouchy for days.  Lots of days.  With a slight stuffiness, I figured he was just in the beginning stages of a cold.  But it never came.  I talked to Kirk about it yesterday as I once again gave Dylan pain medication for a pain I couldn't identify.

"I wonder if those molars he's getting are hurting him?" Kirk asked.

Duh.  Molars!  Yeah, he's getting some of those.  And that would sure explain his sad, "Ouch," the bit of stuffiness, and the figurative eggshells I've had to carefully navigate to keep him from melting into a puddle of tears at any given moment.

Had it been Adam, I'd have known to watch for molars, because the daily email to which I had subscribed would have told me to expect them.  They'd have been on my radar at least.

Had it been Alex, I'd still have possessed the memory to recall teething from when Adam did it.  Plus I was around him all. the. time.  The grouchiness alone would have prompted me to research a cause.

But as Kirk and I did our December 21st Christmas shopping spree, and I came to the realization that sewing a church bag for Dylan (to match the ones I made for the boys back in 2009) just wasn't going to happen, I had to admit something a bit painful.

I'm not that mom.

I used to be.  I have the blog pictures to prove it.  But I'm not now, and guess what?  That's okay.

There is no mother-making cookie cutter; there is no right way.  I've tried on a few.  I did working-full-time mom when Adam was born.  I've done part-time a lot.  I've done full-on stay-at-home (that's when I made the bags).  Now I seem to have found some sort of work-part-time, get-a-degree, maintain-hobbies-and-friendships craziness that keeps me running from thing to thing.  I'll probably try on a few more as we progress through life.  I've yet to do soccer-mom (or football-mom as the case may soon be).  I'll always struggle with rock-the-kids-to-sleep mom (I just can't hold still long enough).

No, my mothering skills are no fine wine.  But I'm proud to declare myself a Twinkie.  Consistently good and practically indestructible.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Ninja Skills

Today I'm feeling like I have some serious ninja skills.  And I'm not talking Fruit Ninja... I'll leave that to the little redhead who seems unfairly skilled at that game seeing as how he is only two.

No, today's ninja skills have roots in my childhood.  My mom would buy me pretty dresses with sashes that tied around the waist.  Every Sunday, I'd put on a dress and not be able to find the sash.  Every Sunday, I'd get the same, "Can't you just leave the tie on your dress," lecture.  Every Sunday, I'd think to myself that the answer was probably no.


My mom saw a sash.  I saw SO much more.  Just like when my dad says, "Toss me that hammer."  The untrained eye may see only tape measure, shoe, 2x4, or rock.  But Dad sees a hammer.  Well, in that sash, I always saw the missing piece to whatever project I was working on.

And that's my ninja skill.  I can look at something and see its multiple uses.  I'm awesome at re-purposing, and I'm really good at figuring out a way.  I'm pretty sure I rarely do things using what we like to call the right way, but things get done.

And today that ninja skill came in particularly handy.  On Saturday, Adam and I talked about what kind of cake he might like for his birthday, and we settled on an iPod cake.  Perfect to capture a bit of Adam's current interests, and perfect because cakes come out of the pan in a decidedly iPod-like shape.

As soon as he decided, he quickly made me a screen on his iPod which showcased the apps I was supposed to choose from, and I started to panic.

Crap.  The apps.  How am I going to pull that off?

The right way: If I had the time and money, I'd liked to have bought edible ink and printed it onto fondant transfers.  Oh, and learned to make fondant.

The reality:  No time, no money, and the cake has to be done by tonight.

I thought and thought and...

Ninja skill!

Fruit roll-ups.  I could cut the pieces out of fruit roll-ups.  And I did.

It really didn't take that long.

And it was kind of fun.

And I got to eat the leftover pieces.

Happy Birthday, Adam!  (Tomorrow, really...)


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A is for Attitude


From "Living the Abundant Life" by President Thomas S. Monson

A in my ABCs refers to attitude. William James, a pioneering American psychologist and philosopher, wrote, “The greatest revolution of our generation is the discovery that human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives."
So much in life depends on our attitude. The way we choose to see things and respond to others makes all the difference. To do the best we can and then to choose to be happy about our circumstances, whatever they may be, can bring peace and contentment.
Charles Swindoll—author, educator, and Christian pastor—said: “Attitude, to me, is more important than … the past, … than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. It will make or break a company, a church, a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day.”
We can’t direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails. For maximum happiness, peace, and contentment, may we choose a positive attitude.

But can I?  Am I capable?  Can I do the best I can and then choose to be happy even if my professor docked me a hugely unfair amount of points for a minor error?

I'm still crossing my fingers and hoping I don't have to find out...

Monday, January 16, 2012

Annual Book Review

Be prepared to be disappointed.


I thought about my annual book review and even started to type up the list of the books and the stars, and then I thought, "Isn't all of this available on GoodReads already?"


And the thing is... it is.


I thought about any life-changing books I've read this past year, and - realizing I had to consult GoodReads to even remember what I read - decided there just weren't that many.


But then I remembered why I really blog.  Oh yeah.  For me.


So for me (since I'll likely never print my GoodReads list, and maybe my posterity might care what mediocre books I read), here's a super boring repost of the best and worst of 2011:


THE FEW I KIND OF REMEMBERED:
Left to Tell (Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocost) - Immaculee Ilibagiza
I love that Immaculee realizes that, although the background is her experience in the Rwandan Holocaust, the book she has authored is not a story of those events. Rather, this book is the story of her immovable faith in unbelievably trying situations. In every instance where she prayed, she also acted upon her faith. It was her actions - based on her faith - which ndnallowed her to survive. This would make a great book club book


The Way of Kings, Brandon Sanderson
This book was one of the best I've read in a genre I can't get enough of. The world Sanderson has created is not limited to just one system of government or philosophy. Instead, he uses many characters and their unique perspectives to flesh out the details of diverse religions, daily routines, and values systems. I lost myself completely, and I have a feeling this world will gnaw at me until I pick up the next book.


1984 - George Orwell
** spoiler alert ** It's really rare for me to start out loving a book and then end up monumentally disappointed, but that is precisely what happened here. I was hooked from the beginning, intrigued and dying to get deeper into the overall philosophy. I was intrigued by Julia and by who Winston became with her. I was so into the idea of The Brotherhood. And then Winston got "The Book," and everything came to a screeching halt. The ideas became wordy and oh-so-repetitive. But I was willing to wade through it to get to what I knew would be a dynamic ending. And then...

Let's just leave it at that I don't care how many people have to die or be brutally tortured to see that right wins. But I'm struggling with leaving a story knowing that good did not prevail.



Cry, the Beloved Country - Alan Paton
When my husband asked me what this book was about I found it impossible to explain. "Well, it's about South Africa. But it really kind of isn't. It was about blacks and whites, I guess. No, not really that either. I guess it was more just about humanity. Common themes like love and forgiveness and responsibility and education and charity. I don't know. It was just about people. And about moments where they chose to do what was right even though it was hard and moments where they didn't choose to do what was right because it wasn't the custom." 


Paton's writing style initially drove me crazy, but once I got into the book and could see the bigger picture I understood why he wrote the way he did. I loved his use of the word "you" to place me directly in the setting. I also loved how there was dialogue that wasn't attributed to any particular character. It made the themes - the pain, the struggle - so universal, attributable to all rather than one. 


There were moments I won't likely forget. The description of Shanty Town will - I hope - stay with me forever. And the charity and forgiveness shown by many of the characters is an example I hope to follow.


WISH I'D NEVER CRACKED THE COVER:
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies - Seth Grahame-Smith
I think it would have helped if I had liked Pride and Prejudice. It definitely would have helped if it had actually been about zombies. All in all, I don't know why this book even exists, and I certainly do not recommend it. I finished it only so I could say I gave every page a chance, but I was disappointed from start to finish.


American Quartet - Warren Adler
While the plot was well-developed and intriguing, the sexual detail surrounding both the detective and the bad guy was just too descriptive and perverse. While I understand the need for the detail as it pertained to character development, for me, it just made the book an un-enjoyable read.


VARYING LEVELS OF AMUSING BUT FORGETTABLE NONETHELESS:
The Scorch Trials - James Dashner ****
The Maze Runner - James Dashner *****
The Ship Who Sang - Anne McCaffrey ****
Power Down - Ben Coes ****
The Compound - S.A. Bodeen ****
The Last Unicorn - Peter S. Beagle ***
The Mayor of Casterbridge - Thomas Hardy **
So Cold the River - Michael Koryta ****
The Holy Thief - William Ryan **
Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter - Tom Franklin ***
Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter - Seth Grahame-Smith **
The Shack - William P. Young ****
The Blue Sword - Robin McKinley ***
Unwind - Neal Shusterman *****
The Peack Kepper: A Novel - Sarah Addison Allen  ***
Tribulation Force - Tim LaHaye ****
Conquest Earth - William Manchee **
Civil War - Wiliam Manchee ***
The Eye of the World - Robert Jordan ***
Fishers of Men - Gerald Lund **** 
Little Britches: Father and I Were Ranchers - Ralph Moody ****
The Paradise War - Stephen Lawhead **
Keys to the Demon Prison - Brandon Mull *****
The Chosen One - Carol Lynch Williams *****
The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane - Katherine Howe *****
Lonestar Sanctuary - Colleen Coble **** 


So there it is... my annual book review in incredibly truncated, boring style.  If you really want to know more, let's be friends on GoodReads!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Gender Roles


I had a presentation on gender roles due in class this week, and I knew I just had to include this picture.

Funny: Last year, Alex was totally willing to play dress up with Kaitlyn while at the babysitters.
Funnier: This year, he and Kaitlyn have converted another little boy to the idea.
Funniest: The boys fight over Cinderella and Snow White... because boys don't wear pink.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

H20

The human body is what, like 60% water?  It's in the blood, bones, brain, and - well - pretty much everything.  And it's pretty important to keep it that way.

So why do I hate drinking it so much?

It's not just that I don't like drinking water.  I'm rarely thirsty.  I drink almost no soda, little milk, and only the occasional glass of kool-aide.  And, unless I really think about it, no water.

Lately, though, I've found three obnoxious reasons to try to do better about staying hydrated.

The first, and most pathetic: wrinkles.



When I was 20, newly married, and working at Coldwell Banker, an older coworker of mine used to come and put a piece of tape between my eyebrows.  She wanted me to learn to stop furrowing my brow, because she knew someday I'd hate the wrinkles.   I didn't learn, and sure enough now at 30, the wrinkles are there whether I'm actively furrowing or not.

But I've discovered a secret.  Imagine the hard edges of the dishrag that has been sitting in the sink for a few days, then add water.  Thankfully, my forehead wrinkles seem to respond similarly.  I wish I didn't have to display my dehydration on my forehead, but at least staying hydrated seems to smooth things out a bit.

The second, and most typical: headaches.

People always say staying hydrated helps with headaches.  I wish it wasn't true.  But it is.  And although it's much easier for me to just pop a few Ibuprofen, it's much better for me to grab a glass of water.  But I don't have to like it.

The third, and most worrisome: my voice.

I was sick for about a half of a day in November.  I lost my voice completely for several days, but despite its gone-ness, I still had to teach, and I still had to conduct my Dickens Festival rehearsals.  I pushed too hard.  It mostly came back, but it was still raspy and was catching on certain notes near my break.  I figured I just needed to make it through to Christmas break and that a full week off would work like magic.

And it did!  I came back to school with my voice 100% for the first time in 6 weeks.  Monday was great. Tuesday was great.  But halfway through Wednesday, it started catching again, and by Thursday, the notes in my break were weak and nearly non-existent.  The advice of my vocal friends seems to be unanimous: hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.

So I am drinking like crazy.  But since my body doesn't seem to send me normal signals, like thirst, I've pretty much scheduled it into my day.

-One full waterbottle after morning workout
-A full bottle before I leave for school
-A full bottle on the drive to school
-A full bottle during my prep time
-A full bottle before I leave school
-A glass with dinner
-At least one glass between dinner and bed

That's 170 flippin' ounces, people (when I meet the goal, but I'd say most days I manage closer to 120).  For a girl who often makes it through the day on 12.  And trust me, that has its disadvantages.  Like needing to pee between every single class I teach.  And there's that annoying water taste.  Not sure I'll get used to that.

And then, of course, there's the question if all this water focus is really worth it.  (I ask, as I sit here drinking water bottle #2 of the day.)  I've a headache this morning, and my voice still isn't working right.

At least it's smoothing out my wrinkles!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

We Didn't Start the Fi-ya!

Billy Joel is awesome.  If you don't agree, I'm not sure we can be friends anymore.

My dad raised me on the Storm Front cassette.  I am pretty sure my sisters and I wore that thing out choreographing dances to its many great songs.  So of course when I saw a Storm Front CD floating around my dad's house, I "borrowed" it for awhile.  It's one of the only CD's in my car, so it gets put it on long drives when we lose access to every radio station worth listening to.  And it gets put in when Alex really wants to listen to a CD, which is fairly often.

Alex's to-preschool song used to be "Trashin' the Camp" from Tarzan.  But I damaged the CD compilation on which it was featured.  But I'm proud to announce he has a new favorite, and I pretty much beam with pride when I hear his husky little voice rockin' out to "We Didn't Start the Fire."  It's the way he really kicks the second syllable of fire.  Ya know... fi-ya.  Love it.

I have to admit, there are some questionable lyrics, and I'll need to do a bit of explaining as the kids catch more of the lists.  I'm hoping they don't hear individually definable words for awhile, especially not in the "British politician sex..." line.  And "JFK, blown away, what else do I have to say?" will probably need to be explained sooner than later.  That one's pretty catch-able.  But, considering the kids also love Ke$ha... yeah.

I've loved tthe "fi-ya" song for as long as I can remember.  A year ago for Christmas, I bought my dad a Billy Joel songbook, and Lisa and I sat at the piano and tried to sing it.  Wow, there are a lot of words.  And I don't know what half of them refer to.

If I taught some sort of high school or college level American history course, I think I'd do a whole "We Didn't Start the Fire" unit where each of the students would choose three contrasting topics from the song and present on them.  For example one celebrity, one politician, and one work of art.  One foreign event, one development, one sports figure.

You don't actually have to do the research, but I'm curious.  Which three would you pick?


Harry Truman, Doris Day, Red China, Johnnie Ray,South Pacific, Walter Winchell, Joe DiMaggio,Joe McCarthy, Richard Nixon, Studebaker, televisionNorth Korea, South Korea, Marilyn Monroe,Rosenbergs, H-bomb, Sugar Ray, PanmunjomBrando, "The King and I" and "The Catcher in the Rye"Eisenhower, vaccine, England's got a new queen,Marciano, Liberace, Santayana goodbyeJoseph Stalin, Malenkov, Nasser and ProkofievRockefeller, Campanella, Communist Bloc,Roy Hn, Juan Peron, Toscanini, dacron,Dien Bien Phu falls, "Rock Around the Clock"Einstein, James Dean, Brooklyn's got a winning team,Davy Crockett, Peter Pan, Elvis Presley, Disneyland,Bardot, Budapest, Alabama, Krushchev,Princess Grace, "Peyton Place", trouble in the SuezLittle Rock, Pasternak, Mickey Mantle, Kerouac,Sputnik, Chou En-Lai, "Bridge on the River Kwai"Lebanon, Charlse de Gaulle, California baseball,Starkweather, homicide, children of thalidomide,Buddy Holly, "Ben Hur", space monkey, Mafia,Hula hoops, Castro, Edsel is a no-go,U-2, Syngman Rhee, payola and Kennedy,Chubby Checker, "Psycho", Belgians in the Congo,Hemingway, Eichmann, "Stranger in a Strange Land"Dylan, Berlin, Bay of Pigs invasion,"Lawrence of Arabia", British Beatlemania,Ole Miss, John Glenn, Liston beats Patterson,Pope Paul, Malcolm X, British politician sex,JFK, blown away, what else do I have to say?Birth control, Ho Chi Minh, Richard Nixon back again,Moonshot, Woodstock, Watergate, punk rock,Begin, Reagan, Palestine, terror on the airline,Ayatollah's in Iran, Russians in Afghanistan,"Wheel of Fortune", Sally Ride, heavy metal suicide,Foreign debts, homeless vets, AIDS, crack, Bernie Goetz,Hypodermics on the shores, China's under martial law,Rock and roll, cola wars, I can't take it anymore.
My three (because they sound interesting, but I have no idea what any of them are)1. Children of thalidomide2. Chubby Checker3. "Peyton Place"
And my other curiosity/challenge:
The original song was written about events between 1949 and 1989 - forty years of history.  It's crazy to me that another 23 years have gone by since then.  If you wrote a few new lines, what would they include?
C'mon, you know you want to play!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Scream Like a Girl

Lest I allow my blog to become a receptacle for the negativity I've felt at 10 pm on each of my most recent UoP Tuesday nights, I've not shared my school adventures lately.  Let's just say I'm having issues with this teacher and leave it at that.  The good news, though, is that I like my classmates a lot.   And although I get teased a lot (for talking too fast, too much, being bossy, and being an overachiever), the intent is never malicious, and I know how to interpret the teases as compliments.

I've fallen easily back into my old UoP routine with respect to the homework.  That is, I put in just enough effort to achieve the desired results of my own personal rubric.  In order to consider the assignment a success, I must:

- Get an A (a perfect score is even better)
- Learn something (if I don't feel I'm learning from the curriculum, I try to challenge myself by learning something new in PowerPoint or Photoshop when I design the presentations)
- Turn in work I can be proud to put my name on

I'm betting this is why they call me an overachiever, but each facet is equally important to me.  I got my bachelor's with a 4.0, and I'm really trying to match that achievement.  The $1000+ bucks per class really should give me the chance to actually learn something.  And it's important to me that people who meet Andrea Fife know she does quality work.

I wish I could add:

- Know I've done my personal best.

But my work would rarely meet that standard, and honestly, moderation in all things really does apply to my schoolwork.  I'm willing to put in the time to meet my own standards, but perfection would just be going too far.

Anyhow, this week, every person in the class gets to give a 10 minute presentation on Gender Roles.  We all have to answer the same 5 questions, and I'm pretty sure I'm going to be in for a boring and repetitive 90 minutes of presentations on Tuesday.  So of course, I'm trying to be a bit different.

I've been mentally formatting my presentation all week, thinking of interesting personal tidbits to use to set mine apart.  Thankfully, I need look no further than Alex, who supplied me, unprompted, with the announcement that, "Mom, I was going to scream like a girl.  But then I didn't.  I screamed like a boy."

And then, of course, there are the pictures of him dressed up as blue-dress-wearing princesses at Kaitlyn's house.  (Apparently he and the other little boy there insist on wearing only the blue or red princess dresses, like Cinderella or Snow White.)

Picture to come.  I promise.

I wish that was the only homework I had this week.  Still to go is a 2450 to 3500 word paper on an observation I did today, requiring all sorts of crazy details regarding developmental theorists and details regarding physical, cognitive, language, moral, and social development.  Yeah.

Knowing my constant shortage of proverbial stones, I took careful aim and threw this particular one in the direction of a preschool I've wanted to observe anyway.  I scoped out the potential future educational environment for Mr. Expressive Language Delay (Dylan) and gathered the data to write the dumb paper.  Score.  An added plus?  I bought pizza and interviewed the preschool owner/teacher (also known as my friend Alicia) while our kids played.  Maybe that stone actually hit three birds!

Unfortunately the paper isn't going to write itself.  Fortunately (*rolls eyes to indicate a facetious tone of voice*) Kirk's mom invited him on a mother/son date tonight, and he's dealing at a casino party tomorrow night.  Alone on both Friday and Saturday night, I suppose I'll have nothing better to do than put in the minimally required amount of work to churn out a half-decent paper.

I'm hoping it goes well.  If not, I'll probably have to scream, and having been imprinted to do so through media and social conditioning, I'll probably scream like a girl.